By Jocelle Koh
Singaporean songstress Tanya Chua 蔡健雅 has once again found her way back to her acoustic roots on her latest intimate single “Photographs”, a collaboration with Italian-French diva Carla Bruni.
In lieu of her upcoming album “Depart 出走”, she’s teamed up with the world-class entertainer and former French first lady on a sensuous, melancholy duet which borrows from folk and Bossa nova genres to create a blissful musical bubble.
Tanya and Carla shared more of their experience working together via a zoom call with various press and media from around the world.
Borne out of the pandemic just like many other works released in the past year, Tanya drew very much on her own perspective of the situation to create her latest album.
“When the whole world just stopped..we were in lockdown…six months of me just idling, I’m so lost…what do i write about? I had no inspiration at all. After six months of just watching a lot of TV it just clicked. I’m just going to write about what’s happening with the world with my guitar.”
This time, Chua dug deep to find what she really wanted to express to the world, and decided that love songs just weren’t going to cut it.
” I didn’t want to write another album about love songs…I have no broken heart. I need to reset myself and one thing I noticed was that as my life got quieter and simpler I just felt like ‘wow, simplicity is so beautiful’.. And then when I picked up my guitar and started writing songs, it felt so natural to stick with that guitar.
Inspired to both make sense of the world around her, while also providing a source of escapism for herself and listeners due to physical restrictions, Tanya challenged herself with the concept of a fully acoustic album, and expanding the sound so it would become three-dimensional.
“That was the challenge when I decided to make a full acoustic album. It does not just sound one dimensional. You can actually close your eyes..theres this cinematic vibe about it.”
As for the unexpected collaboration with Bruni, Tanya shared that it was somewhat unexpected for her too! While the intention started with Carla wanting to work with an artist from Asia, when she heard Tanya’s music the search was well and truly over. Carla shared the story behind the collaboration:
“What happened to me is that i was really looking to work with artist from Asia. I believe the future of the world is Asia and I also like Tanya’s work a lot. There was not two or three (options), it was Tanya. I liked the voice, the way she writes her songs , I like her simplicity but also the passion you can feel in her blood… My first connection was the idea from my manager to work with a female asian artist but right away I felt that I should do it with Tanya or not do it. My manager gave me a great list of artists…fantastic people.but my intimate connection was with Tanya..it was unexplainable…it’s very mysterious and doesn’t depend on intelligence or logic. it depends on something much more reliant on our souls.”
Eloquent and elegant, we expected no less from the seasoned supermodel, artist and previous first lady of France. Calling in from Italy where she’s spending the summer with family, both she and Tanya shared that they were kindred spirits right from the beginning.
“Before we actually met through zoom..I really liked the artist and the person she seemed to be…but that was very easy. There was no distance. we talked as if we knew each other for a long time.”
From connecting to Carla loving the song ‘Photographs’, this intimate collaboration could not have found its better half. Inspired by the need for tactility in an increasingly isolated and screen-based world, Tanya thought back to the physical photographs that used to be such a big part of our lives.
“I felt like I needed to hold on to tactile things which I couldn’t anymore. I couldn’t hug my family, I couldn’t see my friends…Everything is so digitalised now in this world. its so easy to delete a picture. But with old photographers there’s always some spirit inside. the colours would fade away but when you look at these old photographs you remind yourself of who you are.”
While Tanya has never been one for following trends and has been a role model for self-love and advocating spirituality in her music, her latest album promises to be yet another experimentation that heals the world in her own unique way.
“Depart出走” will be out on all streaming platforms the 13th of August 2021. Head over now to hear “Photographs” and the previous two singles from Tanya’s album too!